Greek athletes face Olympic ban

In a severe shock to a nation, Costas Kenteris, who won gold in the 200 metres in the Sydney Games and Katerina Thanou, who took silver in the women’s 100 metres, were in hospital due to a motorcycle crash after failing to take the test.

The pair were visited in hospital this morning and declared healthy. At the same time, they were ordered to appear before a three-member IOC drugs panel.

Kederis and training partner Thanou apparently missed the test because they had left the Olympic Village to gather their belongings from their home.

But a senior world athletics official said the pair seemed to have been victims of a breakdown in communication among Greek team officials and should therefore escape sanction.

“According to our information the Greek team leader was informed but not the athletes. To our mind this doesn’t constitute a refusal,” said Istvan Gyulai, secretary-general of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

A missed drugs test is normally treated as a failed test and leads to immediate suspension from competition.

A ban for Kederis would be a blow to Greek hopes for the Games after a late spurt of preparation and construction managed to silence critics of Athens’ sometimes chaotic build-up.

His standing among home fans has been likened to that of Australian runner Cathy Freeman at the Sydney Games.

It is not the first time that Kederis, who rarely competes outside major championships, has been involved in controversy over regulations.

In March last year, the Greek authorities cautioned his coach Christos Tzekos for failing to tell them about a training trip Kederis made to Qatar.

Under IAAF regulations, athletes must tell the governing body of their whereabouts at all times.

Kederis is the only man to win the Olympic, world and European 200 titles.

He first attracted attention in 2000 when he set a national record of 20.25 seconds, improving his time to 20.14 in Sydney then to 20.09 when he became the surprise winner before going on to take the world and then European titles

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